I am currently in a joint teaching/research post-doctoral position at a university that is different than where I obtained my PhD. There may be an opportunity in the future for me to return to my old PhD advisor and be hired on as a post-doc once my tenure is up here. I don't really NEED the job as I have decent job security teaching where I currently am. It will, however, keep the door open for sustaining good research, publishing, and gaining grant-writing skills... the latter being something that my current post-doc advisor has never offered me... And yes, personally I would like to go back and work for them again (for a variety of professional related reasons).

I understand this will be a lateral move at best but I am trying to gain sufficient understanding on how this will affect future career options in academia. I've been told that this type of situation can cause people to simply overlook you when applying for faculty positions at higher-ranked schools. I'm not really interested in joining some "Top 50" research university either but I'm not willing to join a pure undergraduate research program just yet either.

Please advise.

  • 1
    If you have decent job security in your current postdoc, and your long-term goal is a tenure-track position in academia (which I think is the case, but you didn't say it in quite those words), then I would expect you to be looking primarily for tenure-track jobs after your current postdoc. Such a job certainly also keeps the door open for sustaining good research, publishing and grant-writing skills. Could you explain why you are not thinking in these terms? Or is this a backup plan for you? Jan 4, 2017 at 16:25
  • Hmm. I feel that I am several followup questions away from a good understanding of your situation. With any luck, someone else will happen by who can help more immediately. Jan 4, 2017 at 16:46
  • 1
    I'm also confused by not being interested in top 50 research institutions, but then you say you aren't ready for higher-ranked institutions - it seems like a contradiction to me. If your goal is tenure-tracked positions at a specific profile of school, it is most important that you be clear on a specific goal (if you have one) and what you think you are currently lacking that prevents you from that goal. Any action which does not further the goal will indeed be at best lateral, and probably a step away from the goal, but it's hard to say without knowing what you hope to accomplish.
    – BrianH
    Jan 4, 2017 at 17:09

2 Answers 2


I have often heard that a student who stays too much in one place risks giving the impression of having a limited perspective, maybe being a bit insular. However, a great thing about postdocs is when you're able to use them to build up your publications list.

In your case, it sounds like the opportunity to build up your publications might outweigh the other possible concern. Also, I would think that your first postdoc in a different group would show that you have had the opportunity to broaden your horizons.


It really depends on what country you are working, and what are your final goals. Most European academic institutions do tend to hire for tenure people who got their PhD in the same institution. I personally believe it is indeed an insular, unwritten policy, that is detrimental for professional development, and impoverishes the institutions research. Contrarily, most USA institutions take for granted your willingness to explore beyond your comfort zone. As far as it concerns you personally, you see where I am heading by the language I am using :)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .